The FMS Workload Reporting System (WRS)

Collecting and monitoring data relating to academic workloads

managing workloads

Universities have a responsibility to ensure that the workload allocations in their units are consistent and in line with their policies on workload allocation.

To achieve this there needs to be an accessible tool that can the capture agreed academic activities carried out on behalf of the University.

The FMS Workload Recording System (WRS) has been developed to allow staff to self-report their workload through a more transparent, equitable and collaborative process.

It is anticipated that this will lead to more informed PDR conversations, improved support around career development & wellbeing issues and allow equality diversity & inclusion considerations to be part of workload planning.

So, what does the system collect?

Previous work on collecting information around teaching activities highlighted the following key points:

  • The scope of the system needs to be wider than just teaching related activities
  • The auto population of activities through mining existing data sources was not always reliable 
  • Self-reporting is essential to ensure accuracy of the data collected
  • Each activity needs to be standardised using its own tariff formulae, for example:
                tutees reported hours = no of tutees x 5
                PARTNERS summer school lead hours = (no of students x 0.1) + 10

A working group was set up to specify what activities were to be recorded, each with its own tariff formulae to convert that activity into hours. These activities when they grouped into three distinct areas:

  1. Teaching & Assessment
    • Taught Sessions
    • Assessment & Feedback
    • Tutees & Projects
    • Other
  2. Research & Innovation
    • Research Projects
    • Research Awards
    • Research Applications
    • Others
  3. Management, Administration & Citizenship
    • Unit
    • Faculty
    • University
    • External/Other

The system was developed in phases:

Phase I (4 months)

Develop the website with an individuals summary view and a collection of self-reporting forms, all driven by a database of workload questions and augmented by data from existing sources.

individual worklaod summary
workload self-reporting forms

Phase II (one month)

Release website to a small pilot group of users to collect user feedback. Development of basic reporting tools (user activities, evaluation reports and cohort workload summaries).

cohort/unit workloads

Phase III (4 months)

Refine any existing usability issues raised by pilot group and develop the advanced reporting & administration tools required for full release.

Phase IV

Full release of the system.

So where are we now ?

The FMS Workload Recording System (WRS) went live in July 2022 to a pilot group of 158 academics.

The next stage (PHASE III) is to review what additional features or changes to the system are required and then prepare the system for its release to the whole Faculty.

Randomness

As part of our Humanising the Online Experience webinar, we suggested the use of name selectors to take the decision-making out of selecting a student to answer a question. We recommend you use this only when you have gotten to know your students well enough to know how they respond to being asked questions by name. Using a randomiser tool can also reduce the feeling that the teacher is ‘picking on’ a particular student too often – both for the teacher and the students!

There are a lot of online tools available, such as:

The slight hitch with using these is that they are not reusable – you need to paste the names in every session.

It’s possible to create one of these yourself using Excel, which you can then save and re-use for the class time and again. A 2-minute tutorial for this, and an example file, is available on the FMS TEL Canvas Community. If you haven’t got access to that community in your Canvas yet, first enroll here.

Of course, you can use these tools for more than just selecting names. You could use this to randomly assign cases for students to study, or assign group roles. You can use them to generate lists of anything in a random order by noting outcomes.

During icebreaker games or other tasks, you may want to try a heads-or-tails or dice-roll randomiser, and there are many other randomising tools available on Random.org.